Mail-order vendors should not use “shipping and handling” charges to pad their margins. Shipping should either be free (built-in to listed prices) or else it should reflect only the vendor’s actual cost of shipping a product. As a matter of principle mail-order vendors should also allow buyers to provide their own FedEx or UPS account numbers to cover shipping, thereby ensuring that the vendor isn’t hiding a margin in that fee.
The practice of padding shipping charges is an abomination to capitalism. It obscures the true costs of transactions and makes comparison shopping more difficult.
Some vendors argue that their shipping expenses include more than postage: e.g., they have to pay for packaging, warehouse space, etc. But charging a handling fee to cover those costs of doing mail-order business is no more legitimate than tacking on fees to cover their costs of rent, accounting, advertising, inventory, financing, etc. Unless customers can barge into the vendor’s warehouse and pick up the items themselves, the vendor is in the mail-order business, and like all mail-order vendors he is expected to prepare orders for shipping.
Feel free to list abusers in the comments. And let them know you’re taking your business to their competitors until they clean up their act.